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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Album Of The Day-Raise The Red Lantern-"Breathe Fire" (2006)

The Album Of The day is "Breathe Fire" by Raise The Red Lantern.


The film Raise the Red Lantern, is set in 1920s feudal China, decades before the Chinese Civil War. Nineteen-year-old Songlian (Gong Li), whose father has recently died and left the family bankrupt, marries into the wealthy Chen family, becoming the fourth wife—or, as she is referred to, the Fourth Mistress—of the household.

That should clear some things up. I am not in fact reviewing the latest sludge/tech/core band out of whatever part of the hinterland Raise The Red Lantern are out of, but in fact Zhang Yimou's Oscar-nominated 1991 epic. Well, no. I'm not, it's a coincidence, I guess, but it does make it hard to Google these guys. I will confess that I am a sucker for this sort of thing; I don't know if it has a name yet, but you know what I mean. A metalcore alike to Rwake at times, mixing the tonalities and production of sludge with the speed and melodic sensibilities of your early Mastodons, your Keelhauls, and fuck, let's toss in the vocal style and general aesthetic of your Neurosis', your Isis'. That's a lot of references, and whether they're appropriate or not, it might be said that this is not the most original of music, that is, I get the feeling that now is the time that there is a lot of this particular kind of music coming out. But lucky for Raise the Red Lantern, and more importantly, lucky for me, because I really like this kind of music.

More to the point, however, is that Raise the Red Lantern are not going to be anybody's idea of a trend-hopping, cookie-cutter band and believe me, I was there for the Great Melodic Metalcore Plague of 2004; I know whence I speak. As much as their sound might suggest or be suggested by the sounds of others, Breathe Fire is a satisfying and propulsive experience; the band is great at crafting a single, unified narrative out of the songs and riffs on the record, and it's a narrative that consistently entertains. Like I said, I'm a sucker for it; the catchy and heavy-ass riffs and the leads, delicately melodic at times but always very tastefully distorted. It's just a good thing then that aside from being the kind of music I like, it's also good music.

There are times when the band wanders; one of the pitfalls of having a consistent and recognizable (you will notice I didn't say "definable", for my piss-poor efforts above) sound is that it's possible to spend some time working within the strictures of the format without actually doing anything. So there are times, in particular during the last section of the record, when the listener's attention wanders.

Even when they're not at their most inspired, however, Raise the Red Lantern put on a helluva show. For every note that maybe doesn't need to be here—and one or two slightly embarrassing incidences of clean singing—they'll still rock your face off.
(Z.D. Smith, MetalReview.com)

Track Listing:

01. Breathe Fire
02. Ol Ironside
03. Daggers in Men's Smiles
04. Bury Them and Keep Silent
05. Brethren We Built this
06. Descent from Babylon
07. Swallow this Swell
08. Sanke Charmer
09. Shark Attack
10. We Put the Fuck Back in Memphis



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